Monday, March 03, 2008
I act, therefore I am
Man is a thinking being, that is true. Although I disagree with Descartes about the relation between my being and my thinking, I agree with him that we have to think. I have explained that in my last blog. Descartes saw this thinking of mine as the foundation of my existence, as an Archimedean point that grounds my existence and from where my existence starts. But can my existence, my being, really start from there? Not if we see my existence as a precondition of my thinking, as I do. This does not mean, however, that I see my existence as an Archimedean point. It cannot be, if we realize that I have always to take care that my existence continues to exist. In concrete words: I have to do something in order to stay alive. I have to eat, to drink, to take care of my health and to do many other things in order to make that my existence continues. And I can have many ideas about how the world and I have been made up and what the my foundation is, in the end it doesn’t feed me. In other words, for being able to think, I have to do so something, to act, in order to stay alive and to make my thinking possible. And if there is an Archimedean point of my existence, it would be this: the fact that I have to act, because I am in this world, i.e. exist. And that is in my view what Wittgenstein meant, when he wrote: “Die Begründung aber, die Rechtfertigung der Evidenz kommt zu einem Ende; – das Ende aber ist nicht, daß uns gewisse Sätze unmittelbar als wahr einleuchten, also eine Art Sehen unsrerseits, sondern unser Handeln, welches am Grunde des Sprachspiels liegt” [However, the foundation, the justification of the obviousness comes to an end;but the end is not that certain sentences become immediately clear to us, so it is not a kind of seeing by us, but it is our acting, which forms the foundation of our language game”] (Ludwig Wittgenstein, Über Gewißheit, 204).